Was the April 22 installment of Grey’s Anatomy—Season 17, Episode 13—“Good as Hell” like the episode title touts? You bet it was! And we have little Zola (Aniela Gumbs) to thank…
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy Season 17, Episode 13, “Good as Hell.”]
As the episode starts, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is still sleeping through her COVID-19 recovery. She’s been stable for days, but she only stays awake for minutes at a time, much to Teddy’s (Kim Raver) frustration.
Finally, Teddy and Winston (Anthony Hill)—who’s now a full-time Grey Sloan staff member—realize Mer has a clot in her liver and a build-up of ammonia, which is why she’s sleeping so much. Teddy is raring to book an OR, but Richard (James Pickens Jr.) isn’t sure she’s ready to operate again. (Teddy is in therapy, though, so that’s a good sign.)
In her imagination, Mer is back on her dream beach, taking long walks with dead husband Derek (Patrick Dempsey). She wants Derek closer, but his theory is that them getting closer would only take her farther from her children. (As in, she would segue into the great beyond.) Meredith contends that grief makes kids stronger. (“Sometimes it makes them stronger, and sometimes it make them… Amelia,” Derek quips.)
Tentatively, Mer asks Der if he has witnessed her past year or two. As in, has he seen her start dating again? He has, and it’s hard, but it’s harder to see her lonely, he says.
Later, Mer tells Der about how Zola always asks about her parent’s wedding and feels robbed that Mer and Der didn’t have an actual wedding. And then, all of a sudden, Mer and Der are in formalwear there on the Dream Beach. Mer asks Der what she should promise, and Der asks her to stop torturing herself.
Back at the hospital, Teddy relents and asks Winston to scrub in with her—after Owen (Kevin McKidd) helps her realize that any bad outcome in Mer’s surgery would destroy her. Teddy and Winston nail the operation and remove the clot, but Mer still doesn’t wake up. Teddy storms off, and Owen finds her in an on-call room, on the verge of hyperventilating. In her fractured state, she even tries kissing Owen, but he just holds her and has her feel all of her feelings.
Meanwhile, Winston has an idea that he tells Richard, and they both call Maggie (Kelly McCreary)—who’s at Mer’s house, watching the kids—to broach the idea to her. Believing in the psychological component of recovery, Winston’s idea is to bring Zola to the hospital so that Mer can hear her voice. Maggie is reluctant, thinking that the sight of her unconscious mother would be too much for Zola to bear. But Zola overhears the phone call, and she tells Maggie she wants to go.
In other news, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) takes over for Link (Chris Carmack) when she realizes that his patient, a junior college pitcher named Felix with post-op complications, has weakness in his right side. Like Teddy, Amelia’s worried she’s a little rusty after so much time out of the OR, but she gets confidence boosts both from a pep talk from Link and from the same pre-surgery superhero pose she used to do with Stephanie. And sure enough, Amelia removes Felix’s tumor perfectly.
The other patient of the week is Erika, a woman who hurt herself skating at an ice rink with her kids when she hit a railing and suffered a “rectus sheath hematoma”—basically, bleeding under her abs. Before she goes under the knife, Erika tells Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Schmitt (Jake Borelli) about her pandemic time so far: She quit her job as a tech lawyer and started a peanut brittle business, and she’s much happier as a result.
Bailey works her magic and fixes the hematoma, but when Erika wakes up after surgery, she starts looking up job listings for lawyer positions again, thinking that she’s been irresponsible for taking a break.
But Bailey tells her that women, and Black women in particular, are socially conditioned to take on the burden of the world. She tells Erika that she herself used to believe that was her duty, and that she suffered a heart attack as a result. “Rest is not laziness, no matter what you’re told or how many times you’re told it,” Bailey tells Erika. “Rest is love. Rest is peace. Rest is a beautiful model for your children.”
Erika takes Bailey’s advice to heart. And Bailey even takes a dose of her own medicine, backtracking on her earlier refusal to let Jo (Camilla Luddington) switch specialities to OB. Bailey realizes that she doesn’t want to stop any woman from following her dream. “Just love it, Wilson,” she tells a grateful Jo. “Love it with every part of you.”
Schmitt, for his part, takes inspiration from Erika’s case and tells Nico (Alex Landi) that Nico should just face his fears and let Schmitt move in with him. Nico, to his credit, agrees. And Nico even tells Schmitt that he loves him. But Schmitt freaks out about that L word and runs off to have a movie night with Jo!
OK, back to Meredith. At the end of the episode, Zola spends what seems like hours with Mer, bravely sitting at her bedside and even filling her in on all of her siblings’ antics. Maggie, Amelia, Richard, Bailey, Teddy, and Winston hover outside the patient room, all of them nervous.
On the beach, Derek tells Meredith it’s not time for her to stay there. She says she’s tired and observes how there’s no pain on the beach. But Derek says he misses the pain.
“It’s not time yet,” he reiterates. “Our kids need you. You have to go.”
And with that, Mer opens her eyes and greets “Zozo.” Zola hugs her and tells her she loves her. Mer replies, “We love you. We love you so much.”
And then, alone on the beach, Derek smiles and walks away.
Seems like the next Grey’s episode is two weeks away, but that episode’s Japril reunion should be worth the wait!
Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC